Saudi Arabia has pledged a $6.4 billion investment in future technology and entrepreneurship. The announcements were made on the first day of LEAP, the international technology platform, which runs till February 3 in Riyadh.
Saudi Aramco’s president and CEO, Amin Nasser, said: “Prosperity7 will connect the dots through big ideas, top talents and disruptive technologies from around the world as we look beyond the energy value chain to areas like healthcare, education and blockchain, for viable solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.”
Aramco Ventures’ Prosperity7 fund, which has raised $1 billion, and NEOM Tech & Digital Company’s billion-dollar investment in future technologies are among the investments and efforts.
NEOM announced the launch of XVRS, a digital twin metaverse platform where virtual reality and physical reality collide to create immersive mixed-reality experiences, as part of its investment. NEOM Tech & Digital Company CEO Joseph Bradley said: “The future will be defined by cognitive meta cities. It is a vision focused on experiences rather than scale. XVRS puts human needs at its core – it is designed to give people more time, space and enhanced safety. M3LD, meanwhile, will place data ownership back in the hands of users and restore trust in the data economy.”
And in the meantime, stc launched MENA HUB, a $1 billion investment in underwater cables and data center infrastructure to service the kingdom’s fast growing digital and cloud sectors.
The firm also announced a new strategic alliance with Huawei Technologies Company, which will see manufacturing facilities for data center equipment and hardware built to increase Saudi businesses’ adoption of new technologies, create local supply chains for technology hardware, and boost the kingdom’s capacity in the high-tech industry.
Also, LEAP saw the launch of ‘The Garage: Start-up District,’ a physical location, startup incubator, accelerator, and more that will provide grants, investment, marketing and training support, full-service workspaces, as well as access to deep-tech labs, talent, and research networks, among other incentives, to empower local and international startups to become tomorrow’s leading technology companies.
The Garage’s mission is to help local and international startups get off the ground.
In addition, J&T Express Group, a logistics company, announced a $2 billion investment with eWTP Arabia Capital and other partners.
J&T will open its MENA headquarters in Riyadh and supply sorting centers, auto warehousing systems, air cargo terminals, e-commerce industry parks, and other sophisticated industrial facilities and supporting infrastructure as part of the investment.
“The logistics infrastructure and facilities that will be established through this partnership will not only accelerate the growth of distribution and cargo in Saudi Arabia but will also leverage our geographic location at the heart of the Middle East and North Africa to make Saudi Arabia into the leading centre for advanced logistics services,” Abdulaziz Al-Duailej (President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA)) stated.
“In the next 10 years, together with eWTP Arabia Capital and other strategic partners, J&T will invest in the most advanced hardware and software equipment in Saudi Arabia, train the most outstanding professional team, build the largest intelligent logistics industrial park in the MENA region, serve the entire regional market, and promote the comprehensive development of the local technology-driven industrial economy,”
Jet Lee, founder and chairman, J&T Express Group.
The DCO startup passport was launched by the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), a multinational organization dedicated to enabling digital prosperity for all.
It allows startups to do business across borders more quickly, easily, and affordably, opening up potentially lucrative markets with a combined population of more than half a billion people.
The startup passport allows for faster access and support in eight DCO nations’ marketplaces. The program will be launched in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria first.
“The startup passport reduces administrative and financial burdens and accelerates corporate registration and other processes for entrepreneurs. Through this passport, they will be able to enter the markets of other DCO member states. This will further our mission of coordinating efforts and sharing expertise to grow the digital economy for the benefit of all nations,” according to the secretary-general of DCO, Deema Al-Yahya.
The DCO also backed Elevate50, a three-year initiative to help 50,000 small and medium-sized businesses sell their goods online. Elevate50, which is backed by Jordan’s MakanE e-commerce platform, is expected to create 5,000 employment, with a focus on women and young people-owned enterprises.
According to Eng Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology “These investments and initiatives are a manifestation of the kingdom’s push toward the growth of the digital economy for the greater good of people, the planet and the prosperity of the MENA region. They mark the next level of growth for the digital economy in Saudi Arabia, the MENA region’s largest technology and digital market.”
The Minister stated during his keynote talk at LEAP22 that Saudi Arabia is the regional leader in technological talent, with over 318,000 employment in the industry and a percentage of female involvement in the ICT workforce that has risen to 28% in recent years.
Hyper-scale cloud companies such as Google, Alibaba, Oracle, and SAP have invested more than $2.5 billion in the kingdom’s cloud technology.
In Saudi Arabia, entrepreneurship is thriving, with venture capital investment in 2021 surpassing that of 2019 and 2020 combined.
Saudi Arabia continues to be the driving force behind technology and innovation in the region. With over $6.4b invested to date, the quest to build the ultimate tech hub is on! #LEAP22 @McitGovSa pic.twitter.com/HTPaADvBv4
— LEAP (@LEAPandInnovate) February 1, 2022